REAL ESTATE

Charter School Developer Buys ex-Strulowitz Brooklyn Site

David Umansky of Civic Builders and 720 Livonia Ave in Brooklyn (Photos via Google Maps, Civic Builders)

Civic Builders, which finances and builds school buildings for charter school networks, purchased a 28,000-square-foot school building at 720 Livonia Avenue in New Lots for $11.5 million. David Umansky, CEO of Civic Builders, signed for the buyer, limited liability company Civic Saratoga.

The building was last purchased for $4.9 million in 2015 by two limited liability companies formed by controversial real estate figure Chaskiel Strulowitz (also known as Cheskel Strulovitch). Civic Builders bought the building at auction after a lender initiated bankruptcy proceedings against Strulowitz in 2019.

A 2017 lawsuit accusing Strulowitz of a Ponzi-type scheme is in arbitration, records show. Brownstoner connected him to an affordable housing project in Bushwick called Knickerbocker Lofts.

Crain’s reported in 2012 that Strulowitz began buying northern Brooklyn properties more than 20 years ago, leasing a three-story former loudspeaker factory on the Williamsburg waterfront in 1998 and converting it into 46 loft apartments, only to lose his 13-year lease when it expired.

The Livonia Avenue deal was the only investment sale recorded last week in New York City between $10 million and $30 million, although a parcel of land adjacent to the LaGuardia Marriott hotel sold for $17 million as part of a $100 million-plus deal for the hotel itself. In the week prior, two such sales were recorded, totalling $34.2 million.

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